Ms Lindsay Ellen Green

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW73318

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 18/10/2016 End: 16:00 20/10/2016

Location: Health and Care Professions Council, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

Please note that the decision can take up to 5 working days to be uploaded onto the HCPTS website. Please contact one of our Hearings Team Managers via tsteam@hcpts-uk.org or +44 (0)808 164 3084 if you require any further information.

 

Allegation

Allegation (as amended at final hearing):


During the course of your practice as a Social Worker at Rochdale Borough Council between 2006 and 2012, you:
 
1. In relation to Child 1, you;
 
a. did not undertake visits and/or make a record of your visits during the period between 7 August 2008 – 30 October 2008;

 

b. did not record the actions in relation to Child 1 between 30

October 2008 and January 2009;

 

c. did not prepare an adequate report for the Child Protection Conference on 22 January 2009 in that;

 

i. You recorded that the child’s father was meeting her health needs, when in fact the situation was more complex
ii. You did not include sufficient detail in the “education” section
iii. Did not further question and/or address Child 1’s lack of embarrassment when talking about sexual matters
iv. Did not adequately set out the circumstances of the child and their family
v. Did not include an accurate account of the risk and/or any protective factors
vi. Did not include a plan for protecting the child
 
d. did not provide sufficient reasoning at the Child Protection

Conference on 22 January 2009 for your recommendation that Child 1 should remain subject to a Child Protection Plan;

 

e. did not communicate effectively in that you did not report that you had required Police involvement to gain access to Child 1’s father’s home to:

i. your manager; and/or
ii. the Child Protection Conference.
 
f. did not devise effective strategies to support Child 1’s engagement between 7 August 2008 –29 June 2009;

 

g. At the Child Protection Conference of 20 April 2009, recommended that Child 1 should be subject to a Child in Need Plan rather than a Child Protection Plan, despite on-going evidence that this child may be at risk of harm;

 

h. Did not take steps to explore the possibility of Child 1 being placed in care and/or did not record such steps;

 

i. Did not take sufficient steps to support Child 1’s engagement with social services and/or did not record such steps.
 
2. In relation to Child 2, you:
 
a. Did not see and/or speak to Child 2 between 7 August 2008 and 20 November 2008 or did not record any such contact;

 

b. Did not record and/or undertake an adequate assessment of the risks to Child 2 of sexual exploitation;

 

c. Did not initiate Section 47 enquiries following the strategy discussion on 15 August 2008;

 

d. Did not see or speak to Child 2 when carrying out an initial assessment following a referral on 24 October 2008;

 

e. Did not ensure that a Child Protection Conference was arranged despite information that Child 2 was at on-going risk of sexual exploitation;

 

f. Did not record any rationale for your failure to hold a child protection conference.

 

3. In relation to Child 3:
 
a. between 20 August 2008 – 23 September 2008, you did not ensure that there was a plan to safeguard Child 3 and/or did not record such a plan;

 

b. you did not take further steps after 18 September 2008 to visit Child 3 again;

 

c. [deleted]

 

d. on 23 September 2008 recommended that No Further Action (NFA) be taken in respect of Child 3 despite on-going potential risk of sexual exploitation;

 

e. [deleted]

 

f. did not document the reason for closing the case.

 
4. In relation to Child 4, you did not maintain accurate records in that there is no record of what preparation you did for the Safeguarding Unit meeting on 29 September 2006.

 
5. In relation to Child 5, between 1 June 2012 and July 2012, you did not maintain accurate records in that you:
 
a. did not record the action you took to engage Child 5; and
 
b. did not document the issues you identified in the case.

 
6. The matters described in paragraphs 1.a – 5. b. amount to misconduct and/or lack of competence.


7. By reason of that misconduct and/or lack of competence, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary matters

Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant

1. The Panel heard the submissions of Ms Thompson on behalf of the HCPC.  It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. In relation to the exercise of the Panel’s discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant under Rule 11 of the Conduct and Competence Committee Rules 2003 (the Rules), she reminded the Panel of the guidance in the cases of R v Jones (Anthony) [2003] AC 1HL of and GMC v Adeogba  & General Medical Council v Visvardis [2016] EWCA Civ 162.

2. The Panel first considered the issue of service and was satisfied that the Notice dated 13 July 2016 of this Conduct and Competence Committee Hearing was sent to the Registrant in accordance with Rule 6 and the requirements of Rule 3 as to service. The Notice was sent to the Registrant's registered address by first class post and to an email address known to the Council.  Evidence of proof of posting was provided. 

3. The Panel noted that the Notice informed the Registrant of the date and details of the Conduct and Competence Committee hearing. She was informed of her right to attend this hearing and be represented.  She was also advised of the Panel’s power to proceed with the hearing in her absence if she did not attend and of how to apply for an adjournment of the hearing.  She was informed of the sanction powers available to the Panel if it found her fitness to practise to be currently impaired. 

4. Ms Thompson submitted an email from the Registrant dated 28 July 2016 sent to an officer of the HCPC.  The Registrant stated that she had not practised as a social worker since 2012 and had no intention of practising as a social worker again.  She did not state whether she intended to attend the hearing. She asked that her statement be submitted and considered at the hearing.  Ms Thompson confirmed that nothing further had been heard from the Registrant since the email of 28 July 2016 and that no other statement had been submitted by her during the HCPC proceedings apart from the email of 28 July 2016. 

5. Having satisfied itself as to proper service in accordance with the Rules, the Panel was mindful that it next had to decide whether to exercise its discretion to proceed in the Registrant's absence.  It was careful to remember that this was a discretion which must be exercised with the utmost caution and with the fairness of the hearing at the forefront of its mind.

6. The Panel decided that the hearing should proceed in the Registrant’s absence.  The Panel considered, in the light of her lack of engagement with the HCPC process throughout the proceedings, and her email of 28 July 2016, that the Registrant appeared to have disengaged from the process. The Panel did not believe the Registrant would attend a future hearing if the current hearing were to be adjourned. She had not asked for an adjournment nor indicated that she was unable to attend for any reason.  The Panel considered that an adjournment would serve no purpose.  The HCPC witness was present and ready to proceed. The Panel was mindful that the allegations now dated back several years and considered it was in the interests of justice to proceed and for the case now to be dealt with as expeditiously as possible.


Application to amend the allegation

7. At the commencement of the hearing Ms Thompson made an application to amend particulars 2(e) and 3(d) of the allegation and to delete particulars 3(c) and 3(e) as these were duplicates of other charges.  She submitted that the amendments would clarify the HCPC’s case and did not change the substance of the allegation against the Registrant.


8. The amendments sought to Particulars 2(e) and 3(d) were as follows, with the changes shown in bold type:
2(e) – Did not arrange ensure that a Child Protection Conference was arranged despite information when there was information that Child 2 was at potential on-going risk of sexual exploitation
3(d) you closed the case on 23 September 2008 recommended that No Further Action (NFA) be taken in respect of Child 3 despite on-going potential risk of sexual exploitation; without first speaking to Child 3 alone;


9. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.  It noted that the Registrant had been informed of the application to amend and sent the proposed amendments to the allegation in a letter from the HCPC dated 14 June 2016. No objection or comment had been received by the HCPC from the Registrant.


10. The Panel considered that the amendments sought clarified the allegations and that no prejudice or unfairness would be caused to the Registrant as a result.  The Panel therefore accepted the amendments to particulars 2(e) and 3(d) should be made and that particulars 3(c) and 3(e) should be deleted. 


Further legal advice


11. After the Panel had decided to proceed in the Registrant’s absence, the Legal Assessor reminded the Panel that the burden of proof remained upon the HCPC and the Registrant did not have to prove her innocence.  In the Registrant’s absence from the proceedings, the Panel should ensure the hearing was as fair as circumstances permit and should look for any points favourable to the Registrant which were reasonably available on the evidence. The Panel should draw no inference from the Registrant’s absence.

Background


12. The Registrant was employed by Rochdale Borough Council ("the Council") from 10 June 1985. She worked in the Council's Duty Team.  Concerns in relation to the Registrant arose following a number of case file audits.  Audits had been undertaken at the instigation of the Council following Operation Span, an investigation commenced in December 2010 by Greater Manchester Police into the sexual exploitation of children and young people in the Rochdale area which led to the criminal prosecution and conviction of nine men in May 2012. 

13. The Council determined that a number of further case file audits should be conducted in October 2012.  These related to the cases of children and young people who had been identified as the victims of sexual exploitation and were in the care of, or receiving services from, the Council.  The purpose was to assess how the Council's Children's Service had dealt with the cases and whether there had been any breaches of relevant social work regulations by any practitioners involved in the cases. 

14. The Registrant was amongst a number of practitioners who were identified by the audits as having potentially breached social work regulations in their handling of cases and in respect of whom formal investigations were undertaken under the Council's Disciplinary Procedure. 

15. In November 2012, SS, an experienced, registered, self-employed social worker was appointed by the Council to undertake an independent investigation in respect of the Registrant, in the course of which she reviewed case files and relevant documents and also interviewed the Registrant.  SS identified the most serious concerns in relation to the cases of the five children and young people who now form the subject of the allegations brought by the HCPC.  

Witness for the HCPC - SS


16. SS confirmed the truth of her signed witness statement dated 24 August 2015 and in her evidence referred to the documents exhibited to it.


17.  SS confirmed she had over thirty years’ experience of working in or managing social care services for children, including a total of fourteen years as a Head of Service for Children and Families.  She confirmed that she looked at between ten to twenty cases per social worker where the audit had identified concerns in relation to their practice.


18. The Panel found SS to be a balanced and credible witness.  She gave her evidence fairly and was willing to make concessions when indicated but remained clear in her overall opinion about the deficiencies she had identified in the Registrant’s practice.


19. SS summarised her concerns that these children and young people were at significant risk, in particular, of sexual exploitation and she considered the Registrant’s actions did not properly protect them.  She explained that the Registrant’s role was as a duty officer. She would expect that the role of the duty officer would be collating information coming in, gathering any additional information available and assessing the risks. The duty officer would then be expected to discuss with the duty manager any immediate steps required and a plan of action.  The key aspect of the duty officer role was to collate all the information and concerns into a concise account.


20.  SS gave the case of Child 1 as an example.  Child 1 had been known to the Council since she was two years old and there was a history of social services involvement with the family on the system. Concerns included her complex deteriorating health, learning disabilities and mother and father’s parenting abilities affected by alcohol, drug and mental health problems. There was further information from reliable sources such as the police, school and from the community. SS said that it was in fact she who collated the information in her investigation and it took a long time to do so.  Therefore at strategy meetings and case conferences, the Registrant was not ensuring that a full picture of the information was presented. This was the social worker’s role. The intervention was therefore ineffective for the most part. 


21. SS described the records kept by the Registrant as very poor, minimal and haphazard.  She said that the records showed no evidence of attempts to engage with the children, though this was an important part of her role. 


22. SS said that when she interviewed the Registrant, she was very angry and upset at the process.  It had been difficult to gauge her ability to take on the issues being raised, but SS formed the impression that the Registrant may not have fully understood her role. 


23. SS said the Registrant appeared to have had little supervision. She had said that she had raised issues with her manager but SS was concerned that there was no evidence of this.


24. SS confirmed that she had been asked to investigate cases of around eight social workers and four or five managers at the Council in total.  In relation to the Registrant, she had looked at more than five cases, but those which are the subject of the allegation were those where she considered there may have been serious breaches of social work regulations.


25. SS said the Registrant had told her she felt under enormous pressure of work and that she had tried to keep up with her records in the evenings. She had formed the view from her investigations overall that the caseloads in the team were high but not impossible, though a number of those social workers she spoke to thought their caseloads were too high.


26. In relation to supervision, SS said that she concluded that the Registrant had felt she lacked supervision, as she gave the impression of feeling isolated in her role and that she was not being given direction. During her investigation SS had observed no supervision notes on her cases.  In relation to general support supervision, as opposed to caseload supervision, SS was aware that if there had been notes, they would have been held on the system, but she saw no evidence of such notes during the period that she investigated. 


27. SS told the Panel that the Registrant was very upset in her interview.  The Registrant was very upset in her interview and whilst she recognised that she was not seeing the Registrant at her best, she formed the view that she had been very out of her depth in her role.  Nevertheless, SS remained clear in her view as to the concerns she had identified in the five cases which formed the subject of the allegation.


28. In summarising her concerns about the Registrant’s practice, SS said she considered that her record keeping was poor and that she was not protecting the children and young people she was there to protect.  

Decision on facts


29. The Panel carefully considered all the information presented, including the oral and documentary evidence. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and remained mindful that the burden of proof was on the HCPC throughout. The Panel considered the factual allegations according to the civil standard of proof that is, whether it was satisfied on the balance of probabilities.


30. The Panel took account of the email submitted by the registrant dated 28 July 2016. The Panel also took into consideration the responses which the Registrant gave to SS during their interview but was mindful that these were not responses given for the purpose of this hearing and attributed less weight to them.


31. The Panel accepted and relied on the evidence of the only witness called, SS, and where it found facts proved, this was on the basis of her oral evidence, her statement dated 24 August 2015 and the documents exhibited.

Particular 1 


Child 1 had been known to Children’s Services since the age of two as a result of concerns about her parents in relation to alcohol/drug misuse and mental health difficulties.  She was referred to the Council by Greater Manchester Police Public Protection Investigation Unit (“PPIU”) on 7 August 2008 due to concerns in relation to sexual exploitation and the case was allocated to the Registrant on the same date. Child 1 was thirteen years old at the time.  Her mother had left the family home.  Child 1 had a heart condition which was deteriorating and also had learning difficulties.  She was reported to have an inappropriate association with a 60 year old man and was thought to be performing sexual favours. 
Particular 1(a) – Proved.
The Panel found no evidence in the records of the Registrant having visited Child 1 in the whole of the period covered in the allegation. The Registrant could not recall whether she had seen Child 1. Having found proved that the Registrant did not visit Child 1, the allegation of failure to record visits fell away.
Particular 1(b) - Proved as amended by the Panel.
The Panel determined to amend the particular by the addition of the words in bold to read:
“did not record the actions decided upon at the case conference on 30 October 2008 in relation to Child 1 between 30 October 2008 and January 2009;”
 which the Panel considered clarified the allegation, and reflected more accurately the evidence and the way the allegation had been put by the HCPC.
Particular 1(c)(i)  - Proved
Particular 1(c)(ii)  - Proved
Particular 1(c)(iii)  - Proved
Particular 1(c)(iv)  - Proved
Particular 1(c)(v)  - Proved
The evidence of SS was that the Registrant’s report was insufficient and inadequate for the reasons sets out in Particulars 1(c)(i-v).
Particular 1 (c) (vi) - Not proved
The Panel noted that the initial assessment template the Registrant completed for the Child Protection Conference on 22 January 2009 did not include a section for a Child Protection Plan.  There was already a Child Protection Plan for Child 1 in place at the time, although the Registrant did not refer to it.
Particular 1(d) – Proved
The Registrant did recommend that Child 1 should remain on the Child Protection Plan, despite information that the plan was not adequately protecting the child. There were very serious concerns as the child was frequently missing and her whereabouts were unknown.
Particular 1(e)(i) - Proved
Particular 1(e)(ii) – Proved
During the interview with SS, the Registrant informed her she had needed police support to gain access into the home yet there was no record of a report to this effect either to the Registrant’s manager or to the Child Protection Conference. SS told the Panel this was a crucial piece of information when assessing risk, which the Registrant should have shared.
Particular 1(f) – Proved
During the interview the Registrant informed SS that Child 1 was difficult to engage yet she did not devise any strategies to deal with these issues. It was SS’s view that clear strategies should have been drawn up by the Registrant to support Child 1’s engagement.
Particular 1(g) – Proved
At the time of the conference the child was missing from home and therefore remained at significant risk. SS believed the decision to move the child to a Children In Need plan was inappropriate due to the continuing risk of significant harm.
Particular 1(h) – Proved
Child 1 was regularly missing from home, she was attending school infrequently and her father often did not know her whereabouts. No efforts had been recorded by the Registrant that she considered the possibility of placing Child 1 into the care of the local authority for her protection. The Registrant said when interviewed by SS that it was not possible to accommodate anybody, however SS confirmed that other workers did take steps to accommodate children at significant risk.
The Panel having found proved that the Registrant did not take steps to explore the possibility of Child 1 being placed in the care of the local authority, the allegation of failure to record such action fell away.
Particular 1(i) - Not proved
The Panel considered this particular duplicated the criticism referring to failing to implement effective strategies to support Child 1’s engagement with Social Services, in Particular 1(f). The allegation of failure to record fell away as the Panel found the substantive failure proved.


Particular 2


Child 2 was aged 15 years old at the relevant time.  She was referred by PPIU due to allegations of sexual exploitation and rape.  The Registrant was allocated Child 2’s case between 7 August 2008 and 20 November 2008. A further referral was received in respect of Child 2 on 24 October 2008 from the Key Stage 4 Co-ordinator at her school due to her presenting at school in an intoxicated state.
Particular 2(a) – Proved
The records for Child 2 confirmed that the Registrant was responsible for carrying out an initial assessment in relation to the child but SS gave evidence that the initial assessment was not completed and the child was not seen by the Registrant. The Registrant acknowledged that she did not complete the initial assessment and that at the time she believed it was not compulsory to see the child.
The allegation of failure to record fell away as the Panel found the substantive failure proved.
 Particular 2(b) – Proved
In the Registrant’s first assessment of Child 2 dated 4 November 2008, she recorded that Child 2 had not been seen or spoken to as part of an assessment. 
Child 2 was a known victim of sexual exploitation and was in need of urgent protection. SS found the Registrant had failed to assess the risk to Child 2 and her assessment of the parents’ ability to protect her was based on inaccurate evidence.
The allegation of failure to record fell away as the Panel found the substantive failure proved.
 Particular 2(c) – Proved
The record of the strategy discussion showed that the Registrant should complete a Section 47 enquiry, but this was not initiated.
 Particular 2(d) – Proved
Child 2 presented at school in an intoxicated state, she had disclosed to both friends and staff members that she had spent the weekend at the home of another local family and alleged she had engaged in sexual activity with three brothers. The Registrant recorded in the initial assessment that Child 2 had not been seen as part of the assessment. She accepted only the father’s assurances which SS considered to be grossly inadequate.
 Particular 2(e) - Not proved
The decision to refer to the interim support team was signed off by the Registrant’s manager and the Panel considered it was not the Registrant’s responsibility to ensure that a Child Protection Conference was arranged.
 Particular 2(f) - Not proved
The Panel noted that the Registrant had not failed to record any information. She had made records regarding the parents’ awareness of concerns of sexual exploitation and strategies put in place by them which amounted to some information.


Particular 3


Child 3 was 12 years of age. Her case was allocated to the Registrant between 10 August 2008 and 23 September 2008. 
 Particular 3(a) – Proved
The strategy discussion of 12 August 2008 did not include a plan to safeguard Child 3 from ongoing risk of harm.
The allegation of failure to record fell away as the Panel found the substantive failure proved.
 Particular 3(b) – Proved
Following a visit to the child from the Registrant on 18 September 2008 there is no record of any further work undertaken with Child 3 or any attempts made to speak to the child or the mother alone which SS believes was necessary in order to give the child and mother an opportunity to speak openly.
 Particular 3(c) - [deleted]
 Particular 3(d) – Proved
The recommendation to close the referral in relation to Child 3 and not to take any further action was based only on one joint interview with Child 3 and her mother which was inadequate action to obtain sufficient evidence on which to properly assess the child’s need for protection.
 Particular 3(e) – [deleted]
 Particular 3(f) – Proved
 No reason for closing the case is recorded.


Particular 4


Child 4 was allocated to the Registrant’s caseload between 13 September 2006 and 9 October 2006. A referral had been received reporting that she was working as a sex worker and was vulnerable to sexual exploitation although she was over the age of consent. 
 Particular 4 – Proved
SS gave evidence she would have expected the Registrant to have undertaken preparation for the strategy meeting by reviewing all he information held and providing this at the strategy meeting.


Particular 5


It was alleged that Child 5 was working as a street prostitute. It was recorded that she had previously been raped as a child and her mother had also been the victim of sexual exploitation. Child 5’s case was allocated to the Registrant between 1 June and July 2012.
 Particular 5(a) – Proved
SS gave evidence that in the interview, the Registrant stated she made attempts to see Child 5 but SS found that the records did not detail the action that had been taken to overcome the resistance of Child 5 to being seen by a social worker.
 Particular 5(b) – Proved
SS had noted that the records referred to issues in the child’s family, but these were not explained in further detail. When SS asked the Registrant her response was “I hold my hands up”.

Decision on Grounds


32. The Panel next determined whether the facts found proved amounted to lack of competence or misconduct. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It bore in mind that there is no standard of proof to be applied at this stage, consideration as to whether the threshold for misconduct has been reached is a matter for its own judgment.
33. The Panel had heard that the Registrant was an experienced social worker who had been in the employment of the Council since 1985.  The Panel had not identified from the evidence that the Registrant lacked either the skills or knowledge to indicate a lack of competence. The Panel was therefore of the view the facts found proved engaged the ground of misconduct and not lack of competence.
34. In considering the issue of misconduct, the Panel bore in mind, as advised by the Legal assessor, that to amount to misconduct the failings proved must be found to be serious and constitute a serious falling short of the standards expected of a registered social worker.
35. The Panel first considered the individual incidents found proved and then the behaviour in the round. The facts of the particulars found proved evidenced similar themes of the Registrant failing to visit vulnerable children, not undertaking adequate risk assessments, failing to collate information, not communicating all relevant information to other professionals involved in the care of the children and not keeping adequate records.  Her failures posed a significant risk to the welfare of the children and young people in this case.  All five were very vulnerable and had been referred to the Council’s Children’s Services because of serious concerns about them at that specific time, including sexual exploitation.  
36. The Panel considered that the facts proved called into question the Registrant’s conduct in relation to the following paragraphs of the General Social Care Council Codes of Practice 2010 (“the GSCC Codes”) which were the standards in place at the time of these events:
1.3 – Supporting service users’ rights to control their lives and make informed choices about the services they receive;
3.4 – Bringing to the attention of your employer or the appropriate authority resource of operational difficulties that might get in the way of the delivery of safe care;
4.2 – Following risk assessment policies and procedures to assess whether the behavior of service users present a risk of harm to themselves or others
4.3 – Taking necessary steps to minimise the risks of service users from doing actual or potential harm to themselves or other people, and;
4.4 – Ensuring that relevant colleagues and agencies are informed about the outcomes and implications of risk assessments.
37. In conclusion, the Panel was satisfied that the failings of the Registrant left the children and young people unprotected and at serious risk of harm and as such, her conduct constituted a serious falling short of the standards expected which amounts to misconduct. 

Decision on Impairment 


38. The Panel next determined whether by reason of the Registrant’s misconduct her fitness to practise is currently impaired.
39. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and had regard to the HCPC Practice Note “Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired” dated July 2013. It kept in mind that not every finding of misconduct will automatically result in a conclusion that fitness to practise is impaired and noted that impairment is ‘forward looking’, but also takes account of past actions.
40. The Registrant had not submitted any information or evidence for the purposes of this hearing beyond her brief email of 28 July 2016.  The Panel therefore had no information as to the Registrant’s work or practice since 2012, other than that she stated in her email that she had not practised as a social worker since 2012 and had since taken early retirement.
41. Whilst the Panel considered that, in principle, the failings identified were potentially remediable, it had no evidence of any attempts at remediation by the Registrant. She had also failed to engage meaningfully with the HCPC process throughout. Her email of 28 July 2016, the only substantive communication from her, indicated she had no insight into her past failings and had not accepted any personal or professional responsibility.  In all these circumstances, the Panel was concerned that there remained an unaddressed risk of repetition and the public is therefore at continued risk of harm.
42. The Panel also considered the public interest and the guidance in the case of CHRE v Nursing & Midwifery Council and Paula Grant of 2011.  It took the view that the Registrant had by her actions failed to protect vulnerable and “at risk” children whom it had been her role as a registered social worker to safeguard. The Panel was satisfied that her actions put children at unwarranted risk of harm, brought the social work profession into disrepute and had breached fundamental tenets of social work. For these reasons, public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made.
43. In conclusion, the Panel determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired in respect of all of the failings identified.


Decision on Sanction


44. The Panel considered the submissions made by Ms Thompson on behalf of the HCPC and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. No further submissions or evidence in mitigation had been received from the Registrant.
45. The Panel was aware that the purpose of any sanction is not to be punitive, though it may have a punitive effect. The Panel bore in mind that its primary function at this stage was to protect the public, while reaching a proportionate sanction, taking into account the wider public interest and the interests of the Registrant.
46. The Panel took into account the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Guidance and applied it to the circumstances of the Registrant’s case.
47. The starting point for the Panel was that the misconduct found proved constituted a serious breach of the GSCC Codes and a breach of a fundamental tenet of the profession.
48. In the only substantive response the Registrant had made to the HCPC she said she had retired from practice and had no intention of returning.   
49. The Panel identified the following aggravating factors in this case:
• The Registrant failed to protect very vulnerable children and young people.
• The Registrant had not shown any insight or remorse in relation to the concerns about her practice. Rather she had refused to acknowledge any responsibility for the failures of care, saying she had been “scapegoated” by the Council. She demonstrated a wholly defensive response and if anything, she had resisted developing insight;
• There was no evidence before the Panel that the Registrant had attempted to remedy her past misconduct;
• The Registrant’s failure to engage with HCPC as her regulatory body further demonstrated her lack of insight.
50. The Panel identified the following mitigating factors:
• There was no information before the Panel indicating any other adverse issues in relation to the Registrant’s previous professional practice. The Panel was aware that the Registrant had had a long career in the profession.
• The Registrant had a high caseload with no evidence of supervision.
51. In light of all of these matters, the Panel considered what sanction, if any, should be applied. 
52. The Panel first considered whether mediation was appropriate and decided it would not meet the seriousness of the concerns about the Registrant’s practice. 
53. The Panel was of the view that the safety of the public and the wider public interest would not be protected if the Panel were to take no further action in this case and decided that a sanction was necessary.
54. The Panel next considered the available sanctions in ascending order of seriousness. 

Caution
55. A Caution Order would be insufficient to mark the seriousness of the Panel’s findings and to protect the wider public interest.

Conditions of Practice Order
56. In the light of the Registrant’s failure to engage throughout the HCPC process and the attitude she had demonstrated both to the HCPC and to the Council at the time of its investigation, the Panel could not have confidence that the Registrant either wished to or would comply with conditions of practice. She had told the HCPC that she had retired from social work practice in 2012 and had no intention to return to practice.  
57. The Panel also concluded that it would not be possible to formulate workable or practicable conditions that would adequately address the issues identified or meet the wider public interest.

Suspension Order
58. The Panel considered carefully whether an order for suspension would be sufficient in this case.  It was satisfied that there had been a serious breach of the required standards which impacted upon the reputation of the profession and that there was a continuing risk to service users because the concerns about the Registrant’s practice remained unaddressed.
59. The Registrant had failed to demonstrate any personal reflection, insight, remediation or genuine remorse. She had been out of social work practice for four years.   Although the Panel had taken the view that the conduct in question was potentially remediable, the Registrant had not shown any desire or willingness to address the deficiencies in her practice or to return to social work in the future.  In light of this, and given the seriousness of the misconduct, a Suspension Order would be inappropriate and insufficient to protect the public and uphold the wider public interest.

Striking Off Order
60. Considering all the circumstances of this case and all the information before it, the Panel concluded that the only means of protecting the public and maintaining public confidence in the profession in this instance was by imposing a Striking Off Order.
61. The need to protect the public and maintain confidence in the profession and the regulatory process outweighed the impact upon the Registrant. In light of this, the Panel was satisfied that this was the appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case.


 

Order

ORDER: That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Ms Lindsay Ellen Green from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.


 

Notes

The order imposed today will apply from 17 November 2016.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Ms Lindsay Ellen Green

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
18/10/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off